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Back to the Source: Energy

By Emily Ziethen | Tue Jan 10 2017
In July 2013, members from the Impact Angel Network closed an investment in dVentus Technologies PLC, an ISO 9001: 2008 certified high technology company of U.S. origin incorporated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2010. The investment helped dVentus to design, develop and manufacture smart grid solutions, energy efficient power generation and distribution solutions. dVentus is strategically situated to respond to the needs of the domestic and international markets with solutions specifically targeted for the clean energy, energy efficiency and smart grid technology sectors.
Anticipated social impact from this investment includes millions of Ethiopians with access to more reliable, efficient electricity and the increased employment of professional and highly skilled engineering jobs. In fact, the company currently employs more than 85 hardworking, intelligent and extremely talented men and women to work on product concept design, R&D, development and manufacturing in its state-of-the-art facility.
The fostering of these bright minds and innovative companies is critical if Ethiopia hopes to achieve its goal to become a middle-income country by 2025 through increased agriculture and industry. A reliable power grid providing adequate sources of electricity to its residents and industries is a reality that Ethiopia needs to quickly put in place.
While Ethiopia is equipped with access to vast renewable energy resources and has the potential to generate more than 60,000 megawatts (MW) of electric power from hydroelectric (86%), wind and solar (8%), as well as geothermal sources (6%), the country only has approximately 2,300 MW of installed generation capacity.(1) With a population of over 95 million people and projections suggesting that the total demand for power will grow by 30% per year, the country is facing an electricity deficit.(2) And of Ethiopia's 95 million citizens, about 80% live in rural areas and only 2 million (mainly urban dwellers) have access to electricity distributed by Ethiopian Electric Power’s (EEP) grid.(3) This translates to a meager rate of 23% connectivity for the entire country.(1)
It will come as no surprise then that Ethiopia ranks 159th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2017 Report, and in their 2015 Enterprise Survey, electricity was ranked as the second highest business environment obstacle for firms. The major constraints of the power sector in Ethiopia are inadequacy of supply, poor quality of supply, poor customer service, lack of trained labor and lack of finance.(3) However, there is a clear political will in Ethiopia to ensure the fulfillment of the development goals in the Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP), as the power sector has been identified as a key in achieving these goals.
Under the first GTP, the Government of Ethiopia intends to increase generation capacity to 10,000 MW upon the completion of two major hydropower plants set to become operational in 2017 and 2018.(1) The second GTP has a new, equally ambitious target to increase generation capacity to over 17,000 MW by 2020, with an overall potential of 35,000 MW by 2037.(1) This increase in generation capacity would help sustain the economic growth Ethiopia has experienced and enable it to become a regional renewable energy hub in East Africa.
Assisting Ethiopia in achieving its goals under GTP is the Power Africa initiative, a multi-partner program launched by President Obama in 2013. Power Africa’s goals are to increase electricity access in sub-Saharan Africa by adding more than 30,000 megawatts of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity and 60 million new home and business connections.(1) Power Africa is supporting Ethiopia’s energy goals through wide-ranging technical assistance in cooperation with the government of Sweden and Norway, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, European Commission, the UN, and DFID.(1) However, Ethiopia is not only looking to the public sector for assistance in developing its energy sector, but also to private investors who are seeking attractive financial and social returns, like the Impact Angel Network.
According to EEP, "the opportunities in the power sector represent about $3 to $4 billion per year. Of this, 65% is in generation, with the rest spread across transmission, universal access and engineering services."(3) The long-term goal is to maximize the country’s energy power potential, one that dVentus fully supports through its products and service offerings.
dVentus’ portfolio of products includes smart electric meters, smart water meters, system solutions, generators and converters, and their service offerings range from electric power and water analysis to system design and smart grid upgrades, all in the effort to assist Ethiopia and the world beyond in sustainably powering enterprise and economic development.
RENEW and the IAN are proud to be a part of dVentus’ story.
Renew Capital is an Africa-focused impact investment firm that backs innovative companies with high-growth potential. Renew Capital manages investments made on behalf of the Renew Capital Angels, a global network of angel investors, foundations and family offices who seek financial returns and sustainable social impact. For the latest on investing in Africa, subscribe and follow us at our social links below.

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